Most of the time, losing an employee, especially a great one, is not desirable for any business. It costs a lot to recruit and replace a person (on many levels) but sometimes it just happens. You may have sensed they were unhappy or perhaps it might be totally unexpected. In some lucky instances, a great employee will tell you they are beginning to look and even give you weeks/months to prepare.
Here is my 20 point action plan for employee quitting checklist:
1. Firstly, breathe and don’t take it personal.
Maybe they are leaving because of you, but avoidance, ranting, accusations or anger will achieve absolutely nothing. They may be leaving because of other opportunities (whether that be a promotion, baby, transfer, better job) – so try to be positive for them if clearly, the situation is great news from their perspective. Alienating them or trying to guilt them will achieve very little. Be bigger than that.
2. Have a protocol and if you are a manager or working in the HR department, then know it.
For smaller business, this may not always occur, but even having this checklist handy is the beginning of a protocol. Some businesses adopt the ‘security will escort you out NOW’ policy which I do not recommend unless there is a very good reason. If the person is likely to be ‘poison’ then paying them their notice and finishing the same day can sometimes be the best course of action.
3. Find out why they are leaving and have a quality HR/IR expert at hand, if not in-house then someone you can call upon to seek advice.
At times, the resignation may be because of an incident, or accident or situation which could cause problems for you down the track. Knowing your rights and responsibilities is always a good thing and the correct direction to take. If you need connecting to someone, I know a great Brisbane firm who I can recommend, just ask me. If the employee is great and you want to keep them, consider asking them what it would take to keep them? It can’t hurt to know and consider that option. Statistically, they will ultimately move on, but you’ve bought yourself a breather, and hopefully, you will be better organised that when they quit again you will be better prepared.
4. Manage the announcement.
It may be that you don’t want clients to know until you have a replacement, or you want to tell the rest of the team a certain way. It really depends on the situation, but better to be clear about this and what you want, rather than leaving it to their own judgement. People are going to ask why so telling them first may alleviate some of the tea room gossips.
5. Review the position.
Do you need to replace them? Have things got quieter, that in fact, their duties can be distributed? Are other options available to manage the business in a better way? Now the person is leaving, you have the opportunity to review what worked in that position, what did not and how you can better improve. Take the time to do this right.
6. Have a recruitment plan in place.
The time to prepare this plan is when you don’t need it. Once you know clearly who/what you need, now is the time to recruit. This starts with a clear and current Position Description which outlines what skills and traits you are looking for. If you are using an agency or consultant, then contact them immediately with your brief. Ascertain what they will do or don’t do. If you are doing this yourself, consider:
- Spelling, typing or other speed tests
- Practical tests; eg if recruiting a bookkeeper, test them
- Screening processes
- Reference checking
- Federal Police checks (where applicable, such as when they have access to money or important or confidential information).
- Advertisements, application processes, even Employment Agreements. Ensure everything is current and ready for action.
7. In the meantime, manage the departing person.
You want to find out where they are at with things, what they know (that someone else does not) and get as many notes as possible. I can assure you that notes and handovers 99% of the time are never as effective as they should be. Usually, it’s a one-pager that just alerts the new person they have been thrown in the deep. Ask those notes are done by the end of the first half of the notice period, then review them personally and if they are insufficient, then ask them to be expanded. If a handover (even to an interim person is useful, action that). Don’t leave things till the last minute; those last few days are often ineffective. Remember that the most diligent employee can lose interest in a job they are leaving; don’t assume they will finish up maintaining the high standard they had previously.
8. Passwords and logins.
These should have been kept along the way so that you are not at the mercy of a departing person (who in fact may give you zero notice). Have a policy around passwords and that the owner has all. Be sure to get all passwords and change all passwords that they had access to. For this reason, keeping a password register is always wise. Remember accounting files, bank access, online logins, social media profiles etc.
9. Book an exit interview with them for the last few days.
Well planned, these can be really effective. Staff will often tell you things as an exiting employee that they would not have previously. Be sure to take notes and don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions – it really is your last chance. However, keep it polite, friendly and professional, otherwise, they will just clam up and share nothing.
10. Before the above interview, it’s a good idea to have reviewed their employment agreement and to remind them of its terms.
People can say “oh I forgot” so remove that excuse.
11. Also, part of the above, if they want to request verbal reference checks, and you approve that, have them sign an authority for this.
12. Collect business property, keys, access cards, uniforms etc.
For this reason, keeping a register of property given to staff proves very useful. Ensure all pieces are accounted for; eg mobile phone or laptop chargers.
13. Provide a reference. If they were shocking, then you won’t.
If they had shortfalls, then you may choose to not mention those, but highlight their strengths. Try to blend nice with honest and if you simply can’t find something nice, then revert to a Statement of Employment. For a great employee, you may provide a glowing reference and willingness to be reference checked.
14. Confirm their home address and remind them to alert you before 30 June if it changes.
It’s very annoying to get ex-employees constantly calling you when they are doing their tax chasing another copy of their Payment Summary. Try to eliminate this where possible.
15. Plan a party.
If they are leaving under good circumstances or were there a long time or were great – then have a small celebration. It’s not just for them, but a reward to the existing staff for staying on. Wishing them well sends a positive message to your team and reinforces your value of your team.
16. After their last day, organise their emails are diverted and someone else manages or babysits.
17. Remove them off any staff listings, websites or internal registers.
18. Pay them correctly. Again your HR/IR or bookkeeping expert can help you.
Remember that just because they might have done the wrong thing, that does not let you off the hook from paying out their entitlements, their correct pay and their super. The employee may not have done the right thing, but that doesn’t make it right for you to do wrong. Pay them out AND be sure their super is paid on time. If they were a painful employee with you, you can bet they will be a nightmare if you give them half the chance. Just do the right thing.
19. Do not badmouth them after they go, especially to the rest of the team.
Your existing staff will not be impressed and will be surely wondering what you say about them behind their backs. Guide your team to support their work and if a mistake is found then deal with it internally and certainly not badmouth them to clients or customers.
20. Learn from the experience.
In every aspect of that person’s employment with the business through to their resignation and their departure, what did you learn which you could do better? Perhaps now is a great time to update your processes and systems? Perhaps the new staff induction and training can be improved upon? Exit interviews often share a lot of useful information, so be sure to make the most of that knowledge. Don’t let ego or emotion come into play. It does take two to tango, if it’s your business, then the buck stops at you … so be responsible for what happens in your business and use the experience as an opportunity to improve your business.
Yes, recruiting, training and managing resignations can be hard work, but with great systems in place, access to excellent professionals and the right action plan, you can make it a little easier. If your staff turnover is high, then it’s time to really take a good hard look at your business. One of the services that I provide clients is an independent and confidential staff review. I have done this with many clients and the outcomes and results have been at times absolutely incredible. If you’d like to know more of my Business Coaching Services, click here or would like to enquire – just ask here.